How do Syrian refugee women seek and find work? A feminist grounded analysis of work integration experiences in Canada
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Close to 58,000 Syrian refugees have resettled in Canada since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011. Half of these are women. When guaranteed income supports cease (provided for up to one year by governments and private sponsorship groups), the women need to become self-sufficient by seeking out and securing employment. However, labor market barriers, including lack of language proficiency, Canadian work experience, discrimination, and credential recognition often intersect to impede integration into safe and decent work. Much of the research on labour market barriers has homogenized the experience of other immigrants with refugees and to date, there is limited understanding of employment experiences of refugee women in particular. In addition, few studies have examined conditions outside of labour market barriers that may shape employment experiences. This dissertation research utilized a qualitative research design guided by feminist grounded theory to examine Syrian refugee women’s experience of seeking and finding employment in Canada. Briefly, the objectives of this research were: to explore women’s employment integration process, identify challenges to securing employment, the influence of settlement policy and programming in shaping the women’s employment, to understand changing gender roles, and to identify potential avenues and strategies to promote employment integration. Three manuscripts addressed these objectives drawing on in-depth, semi-structured interviews with 20 Syrian refugee women arriving through four resettlement streams and 9 key informants working in the settlement agency sector. Findings revealed how the women experienced multiple and intersecting conditions and barriers that pushed them into low-waged, low-skilled, precarious positions in informal and feminized sectors. The settlement stream through which refugees enter Canada, the influence of settlement agencies, the women’s gender and family role, social support networks, navigating a new economic context, and whether the women arrived with certain skills (e.g. language) and resources are examples of conditions that facilitated or hindered employment opportunities. Drawing on these conditions, a new framework is proposed to understand employment integration of refugees in Canada. This framework highlights common pathways to employment and points to area for improvement and recommendation to help mediate challenges and promote a positive resettlement experience for all refugees.
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Sonja Senthanar (2019). How do Syrian refugee women seek and find work? A feminist grounded analysis of work integration experiences in Canada. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/15020